Christianity and Politics in Doe's Liberia

Christianity and Politics in Doe's Liberia

by Paul Gifford
     
 

This study analyses the socio-political function of Christianity in Liberia under the corrupt and oppressive regime of Samuel K. Doe (1980-90). Paul Gifford discusses all branches of Christianity in that country: the mainline, the evangelical, the new pentecostal, and the independent churches. He argues that the mainline churches, although they sometimes spoke out,… See more details below

Overview

This study analyses the socio-political function of Christianity in Liberia under the corrupt and oppressive regime of Samuel K. Doe (1980-90). Paul Gifford discusses all branches of Christianity in that country: the mainline, the evangelical, the new pentecostal, and the independent churches. He argues that the mainline churches, although they sometimes spoke out, were tamed or co-opted by Doe, and in general lacked the moral authority to challenge the iniquitous system. Most evangelical churches taught that calamities were to be expected in these end times, advocated obedience, together with a passive acceptance of hardship and a pietistic retreat from worldly concerns, and attributed all evils to demonic causality; such emphases diverted attention from Liberia's ills, and left Doe unchallenged in his corruption and mismanagement. The modern pentecostal churches, with their faith gospel of health and wealth, went further still, teaching that God himself would bring about any necessary changes. The independent churches increasingly sought links - as a result of Liberia's economic collapse - with American churches, and came to absorb those churches' evangelical/pentecostal theology. Gifford shows that Liberian Christianity was devised in the USA and promoted by American missionaries, many of whom unconsciously identified God with America, the divine will with American interests. This Christianity therefore furthered the regional economic and political objectives of the US government, which was Doe's greatest source of support. This is the first comprehensive study of the role of Christianity in a modern African society; and the small size of Liberia means that Gifford is able to treat, in very sharp focus, trends evident throughout the whole African continent.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780521420297
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
04/08/1993
Series:
Cambridge Studies in Ideology and Religion Series, #2
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
5.43(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.94(d)

Table of Contents

General editors' preface
List of abbreviations
Map
Introduction1
1The historical context9
2The mainline churches47
3The evangelical churches98
4The faith gospel of health and wealth146
5The independent churches190
6The geopolitical context231
7Conclusion286
Select bibliography318
Index343

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